My Writing Journey

NCW2015 and a year of ‘Employability What?’

The amazing celebration of all things careers, National Careers Week 2015, is upon us!  NCW2015 provides a great focus for businesses, education providers and young people to explore careers through workshops, experiences and more.  Events are taking place up and down the country and that’s great to see – I’ll be playing my part in that too.

For me, NCW2015 is not only a great opportunity to showcase what’s going on in my area, it also marks the one year anniversary of ‘Employability What?’.  What a year it’s been too!  I’ve had a great response to the book from all walks of life and the comments I’ve received really have been appreciated.

Along this journey there’s been so many mini milestones, each little thing making me realise I’ve done something that has made a mark: the first order of books for a full class; the first books sold in the US; receiving a photo from the local library of a young person reading ‘Employability What?’; the list goes on.

I’ve said it many times before though, selling large quantities is not what it’s all about for me.  The tweets to say the book has helped is why I put pen to paper.  The thank you notes because someone followed the interview advice and totally aced it are why I put my passion into words.  The spark of realisation when a young person realises they are employable – that’s why I do what I do.

So what’s next then?  Well, once NCW2015 is over and I get the chance to take a breather, I’ll be working on getting the ebook version ‘Employability What?’ completed then who knows, I just might start thinking about the next book!

Ann x

A bit of an update…

Having looked back at my blog, I can’t believe how long ago it is that I posted. Things have been such a whirlwind recently and the feedback I’ve been getting from the book has been excellent. I’ve had a couple of great reviews in and will be sharing them with you very soon.

I thought in this blog it would be good to share my experiences from the last week with you – a week that has been the epitome of all things employability and thank has also thankfully seen a few copies of Employability What? sold.

Tuesday morning saw us re-launch the Employability Charter, an initiative which aims to link business and learning to develop employability skills. This is something that I’ve been working on as part of my day job for the last 18months, learning as I’ve gone from Kerrie Jaquest from the Humber Education Business Partnership who has become a very dear friend and supporter. After a hugely successful year, the Humber LEP have now adopted the Employability Charter and see it as one of the key tools that will help support skills across the Humber. The re-launch event which showed off our new branding and website but also gave young people the stage to talk about their skills and routes into the world of work, highlighting to the employers in the audience how much they could have an impact.

The work of the Employability Charter is something I’m hugely proud of so to have our work acknowledged by the Humber LEP is a great pat on the back and gives the platform and encouragement to move it further. For the Employability Charter to receive a Special Recognition Award at the Hull Esteem Consortium awards celebration on the same day was again testament to something I very much believe in. Young people ARE employable, they just need help to realise it.

Wednesday saw me working with two year 8 classes at a local school, running interactive sessions which introduced them to employability skills in exactly they same way as I do in the pages of Employability What?. As is usually the case when working with students, they are oblivious to the skills they already posses, let alone how they can be grouped together and how they are used in business yet by they end of the 50 minute session, all were engaged and could highlight where they were demonstrating those all important employability skills.

The students were mildly amused as the photographer from the local paper interrupted the last lesson to take a series of shots for a forthcoming newspaper interview about Employability What?.

This week has been National Careers Week and National Apprenticeship Week and as such a perfect time for me to launch Employability What? throughout my networks. The thing is though, this book is relevant to every young person, every day so I would urge every parent reading this to think about their own children and every teacher to think about the young people in their charge.

Should you want to purchase a copy, visit

Or to order for your class, drop me an e-mail on

Thanks for reading


It’s Here!!!

It’s been little over 7 months since this journey began. It’s been an experience and a learning curve but over this last two days there has been a flurry of activity that has completely blown me away.

Having submitted my print ready files and artwork to the lovely people at The Choir Press on January 2nd, I’ve been waiting eagerly for the post every day, waiting for the approval copy to arrive. As much as you can visualise what you want the finished book to look like, until that copy is in your hands you can’t really get a feel for it. My fantastic illustrator Lewis and I had planned how much time we’d need to go through Employability What? and make the necessary tweaks but I’m very happy to report that on Tuesday evening I got home to find the very first copy waiting on the mat. It was perfect! There was not a single thing I wanted to change. My vision for Employability What? had been turned into one heck of a reality and believe me, that’s an amazing feeling.

In all the time I’ve been writing, my family and in particular my husband Allan had not read any of my work. Instead they chose to wait until this moment to see the book in all it’s finished glory and I’m actually glad that that’s the decision they made. Allan and indeed my friends and family have been hugely supportive but there have been occasions where I’ve thought they possibly been humouring me a little. It’s clear they are proud now they’ve seen it.

Receiving and signing off the approval copy was a massive milestone but to get a call yesterday morning from my mum telling me my auntie had just pre-ordered via Amazon was the icing on the cake. Being new to this process, I envisaged waiting for the book to show up on line, probably even after release date so to find that the publication date was being brought forward to February 14th and was already available for pre-order on line almost knocked me flat.

So now I’m gearing up to launch Employability What? and am carrying my approval copy with me everywhere, to show those who have offered their encouragement throughout this process or just to talk to people about how my incredible day job,which will hit the 5 year mark during the week my book is launched, has led me on this journey.

One last thing before I sign off and try to stop my head from spinning…. Here’s the link, just in case you were interested 🙂

As ever, thanks for reading.


The Business Behind The Book

In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about the fact that publishing my first book was more than just that. In creating a product to sell I was also creating a business.

Whilst those first meetings with banks, accountants and web specialists make you feel like your own little empire is coming together, the truth of the matter is that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Having worked for small companies before, I’m no stranger to a bit of entrepreneurial spirit but when you’re setting up a business from scratch, even if it’s not going to be your main source of income, it’s no small task.

For a start, setting up my own business alongside a busy and demanding day job means that I’ve made the most of some spare time over the Christmas holidays. That doesn’t mean it’s been all work and no play. Thanks to a couple of strategically requested Christmas presents, I’ve made the most of some quiet evenings in front of the TV to produce a pre-order flyer, design my invoices and get all those spreadsheets and finance trackers set up.

There’s also the little issue of finances that I would hazard a guess most people in employment, unless specifically responsible for a budget, simply don’t appreciate. This business has been set up using personal savings and it wasn’t until earlier today when I found myself weighing up envelopes (which type, how many, best value etc) that this really hit home. On reflection, I think managing a budget is something more young people in employment should be introduced to. Application of numeracy, one of the seven key employability skills I write about is something that many young people struggle to demonstrate yet it’s also a life skill that too few are learning. The next time I have a young person with us on work experience, there will definitely be a budgeting task for them and it will be made very clear that the skills they are learning are for life and for their CV.

So what’s next? Well the next few days will be focused on getting ‘Employability What?’ ready for the publisher. Lewis has almost got the final page layout complete and we’re close to signing off the cover design. I’ve planned out how many copies I can afford on the initial print run so as soon as the files are safely with the publisher, the next step will be to concentrate on the official launch, publicity and securing some more orders to coincide with the March 4th launch.

This is likely to be my last post before the New Year so I’d just like to finish by thanking everyone for their support in getting ‘Employability What?’ off the ground. 2014 is going to be AMAZING!


Bringing ‘Employability What?’ to life

They say a picture says a thousand words and I have to say I agree. From the outset I knew that illustrations would be a must to help ‘Employability What?’ appeal to its target audience. What I didn’t bargain for was just how much of a difference it would really make.

I’ve teamed up with a brilliant illustrator, Lewis Jackson (, who took the time to read the draft manuscript and get a thorough understanding of how I wanted the book to feel, what the style should be and where illustrations were required. In fact, because of this process, we only changed a couple of illustrations out of the 30+ that have been done.

As we work on the critical job of laying out each and every page, we thought it was about time to share a couple of these illustrations. We’re very excited about them and hope you love them as much as we do. We’d love to hear your comments too.

So here goes…

This image appears right at the beginning of the book where we first start to look at what employability skills are and why a student can’t wait until they’re ready to enter the world of work to develop them.

At the point of starting to look at writing CVs, this little character is shown.

We’ve also developed a set of employability icons which appear throughout the book and will also be a constant in my marketing materials and on my website.

It may be Christmas but Lewis and I have a busy few days ahead as we get ‘Employability What?’ ready to go to the publishers on January 2nd. Watch out for more posts over the coming days as I continue to share this book writing journey with you.

As ever, thanks for reading


A bit of an update…

It’s been a while since my last post – sorry for keeping you out of the loop! Things have moved on at a pace in the last month and it’s been something of a whirlwind. Whilst I always appreciated that writing a book was going to be a challenge alongside family life, a full time job and all of the ‘extra’ things I’m involved in, the last month has been a real juggling act and has emphasised the need to divide things up and devote my time and attention in such a way that I can still do everything I need to.

So what’s been happening you might ask? Well, you might remember in an earlier post that I mentioned a student who had been with me on work experience was giving the book something of a test drive. The good news on this is that I’ve had the best feedback I could have hoped for and I’m happy that I’ve delivered exactly what she needed. In fact, I’ve managed to deliver what she didn’t even realise she needed so I’ll take that as a success.

Things have been moving on well in other areas too as I’ve met with my accountant and set the ball rolling on the business side of things. I’ve also started work with a good friend on looking at my website and marketing materials and I’m very excited to start putting these things together and seeing the whole brand around the book developing.

It’s hard to believe from the start of this journey that I’m now only a matter of a few weeks away from having a print ready book, perfectly illustrated, ready to send off to my publisher. The run up to Christmas is always a hectic one but I’m taking things to another level this year!

Keep an eye out for my posts over the next month as I start to share more and more about the book. If you’re lucky, I might even include a sneak peak at a few illustrations.

Thanks for reading


Ups and downs

Why is it you can have the most positive of weeks and then self-doubt hits you from nowhere?

Through the day job I’ve been able to work with a number of students this week including going out to a local school to carry out mock interviews with some of their year 10 students. This gave me the perfect opportunity to use some of the advice in my book and it was great to see their confidence boosted when they realised that they had things to add to their CVs that they simply hadn’t appreciated. Carrying out mock interviews with students is one of my favourite ways to work with students and help them prepare for the world of work that awaits them.

I’ve also been working with a student who has been with us on work experience this week. Being amongst my target auduence I’ve entrusted her with a draft manuscript to get her views. I’ve made her promise to give her honest feedback, not just what she thinks I want to hear. She’s being very secretive so far but what little feedback she is giving away is sounding positive.

I’ve also met with a very good friend who has given some invaluable advice on the business side of things but then at 1am this morning the doubts crept in.

What if no-one buys my book?

What if schools don’t like it because its not an academic piece precisely linked into the curriculum but gives a business perspective?

After a good hour or so fretting I realised that this must be something every author goes through. Every author must wonder if their book is pitched right for their audience or if the route they’ve chosen for publishing is the right one. I also had to remember why I’m doing this. This book is for me, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The subject is also something I’m very passionate about and as I’ve said before, if it helps just a handful of students understand the skills required for work then I will consider it a success.

I’m sure there’ll be many more times when the fear and self-doubt kicks in but I certainly won’t be letting those feelings hang around for long!

The Power of Support

It’s been a week since my last post and a lot has happened in that time. Above all, I was bowled over by the support and comments I’ve received having started this blog and sharing my journey. I only ever expected my nearest and dearest to be interested in what I was doing so never imagined to have it read as far away as the USA and to have retweets and follows on Twitter from authors around the UK. If you’re not following me, please do so – I’m @annnewlove

This support has really spurred me on so thank you.

So in my last post I mentioned that I’d finally felt ready to share a draft of my manuscript with my boss, friend and mentor Sam and the good news is that his feedback was excellent. More important, it was honest. I needed the reassurance from someone who knew the subject matter that I’d pitched it right for my audience and on the whole, I seem to have done so. Sam also gave me some very constructive feedback on areas such as endorsements which I’ll definitely be following through.

The next big milestone that took place in the last week, after numerous e-mails, was my first phone conversation with my chosen publisher. Talking about the type of binding, the number of pages and the style and colour of the illustrations was something I’ve always had in my mind so for the conversation to move on to their distribution networks, registering the book’s ISBN number and the all important costs made the whole process seem very real. The scary outcome of the conversation was that to meet my launch deadline, print ready files need to be with them for the first working day in January! To say I was a little giddy when I got off the phone was something of an understatement!

So what happens next you might ask. The immediate priorities are to finish off the one section of the book that needed that bit more research and to expand on the About The Author section as per one of Sam’s comments. Why is it so difficult to write about yourself?! Aside from that there is the little issue of figuring out a name so any suggestions would be much appreciated!

Thanks for reading, I’ll update again soon


And so the journey starts…

I’ve always dreamed of writing a book but that was all it ever really was, just a dream.  

When my good friend, Action Jackson, sent me a copy of his first book in which he’d told the world about the ‘butt kick’ I’d given him about his own book, I realised that I needed to take action myself and start putting pen to paper.

“Your dreams come true when you act to turn them into realities.”  Anonymous

It felt like instantly I knew what I had to write about and who my audience was.  Through my job helping to deliver Hull’s Building Schools for the Future programme I’ve done a lot of work with students around developing employability skills and I knew that was what I needed to write about.  Importantly though, just committing to writing a book wasn’t enough for me.  I needed to make sure I followed through on turning my dreams into reality and commit to the exact date I’ll be launching my book which is during National Careers Week in March 2014.

After about two months of writing on an evening, I’ve almost completed draft number six (ish) of my book which is aimed at students aged 14-18 and looks at each of the seven key employability skills along with CV writing guidance and interview tips.

Now the real journey and hard work begins…

I’ve got an illustrator lined up ready to work with me as soon as the text is completed and I’m possibly a little over excited to have a call lined up with my chosen publisher tomorrow.  I’ve also got the business side of things to set up which you just don’t appreciate when you set out writing a book.  It’s a bit of a scary and daunting process if I’m honest!

Having kept my manuscript closely guarded until this point, I’ve very nervously handed a draft over to my boss, friend and mentor Sam earlier today.  Sam’s a fellow champion of employability and I know the feedback I get from him will be honest.

I feel like I’ve reached a real turning point today which is why I’ve decided it’s time to start my blog and share my journey with you.  Who knows where it will take me.  I’m not dreaming of having the next best seller but if my book helps just a handful of students reach their employability potential then I’ll consider it a success.

So watch this space, I’ll keep you informed on how I’m getting on!